Togolese army says it was behind blast that killed several civilians

The Togolese army said on Thursday it was responsible for an explosion that killed seven civilians and injured two others, after mistaking them for jihadists.

The explosion occurred on Saturday in the northern prefecture of Tone, near the border with Burkina Faso, where militants linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda are active.

Togolese troops are deployed in the region to try to contain a spillover of the threat to coastal West Africa.

The army said on Sunday that it had opened an investigation “to determine the circumstances of this explosion and identify the perpetrators”.

On Thursday, the Togolese armed forces chief of staff, General Dadja Maganawe, concluded that a plane had wrongly targeted civilians in the village of Margba, in Tone prefecture.

General Maganawe said in a statement that the army had previously received “intelligence” indicating a threat of “infiltration by armed gangs wanting to carry out terrorist attacks” against local communities.

“Because of the imminent danger,” he said, the commander at the head of an operation dubbed Koundjoare “has reinforced surveillance as well as land and air control of the area.”

“It was during these operations that an aircraft patrolling at night unfortunately targeted a group of people it had mistakenly identified as traveling jihadists,” Maganawe said.

“The Togolese armed forces express their deep regret at this tragedy, and renew their sincere condolences to the families of those affected, and once again wish a speedy recovery to the injured.

He added that “everything possible” would be done “to prevent this kind of drama from happening again”.

Togo last month declared a state of emergency in its northern prefectures amid the threat of attacks by Islamist militants.

Eight Togolese soldiers were killed in an attack in the region in May.

(AFP)

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